When you lend rooms to the homeless, expect cheers of approbation; when you explain why they are homeless, expect howls of execration. This is not to diss what Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have done – far from it. Allowing homeless squatters to stay in the building they are turning into a luxury hotel is a true act of kindness in a sector characterised by cruelty.So It’s ‘cruelty’ that I haven’t got a fleet of Ferraris (or a seven bedroom mansion) is it?
So extreme has the housing crisis become that scarcely anyone would claim to be unmoved by the condition of those at the bottom.*raises hand* Me! I’m unmoved.
But the major cause of the housing crisis? We just don’t want to know, and it’s not hard to see why. The major cause is a spectacular failure to tax those who own property.*looks at council tax demand*
Wow, thanks for the advice, George! I’ll just tear this up, shall I?
This is, in theory, a free country, and I’m not proposing that those who have more than they need should be forced to move. But in the midst of an acute housing crisis, you would expect fiscal policies to help match supply to demand. Current taxes do the opposite.Well, actually, you are proposing that they be forced to move, aren’t you? By demanding that they be priced out.
The exemption from capital gains tax for main residences, inheritance tax breaks, a grossly unfair and regressive banding of council tax: all create powerful incentives to pour your money into a bigger house than you need and then hold on to it.What absolute politics-of-envy bollocks from this fruitcake! Hardly surprising that the hard-of-thinking in the CiF commentariat are lapping it up.
Surely the logical response is a tax on hoarding, calibrated to the rate of occupancy. A variable council tax is the simplest way of doing it: the more spare bedrooms you possess, the more you pay.I bet we’d soon see a host of exemptions and clarifications for the great and good, eh, George?
You say these things at your peril.And yet you aren’t swinging from the nearest lamppost, George. Nor do you even have to read the comments of your detractors.
When I first proposed such measures, in 2011, they were greeted with fury. In the Daily Telegraph my idea was pronounced “far closer to fascism than the ethno-centric populism of the European radical Right”. Curiously, when the government proposed a similar measure – the bedroom tax – aimed not, as I proposed, at property owners but at the poorest households (tenants on housing benefit) , the same people were delighted.Yes, George. Because they don’t own their own property, they are expecting everyone else to subsidise them!
In a recent debate in the Guardian Joan Bakewell, who is almost the transcendental form of English liberalism, and whose own house, she says, is “worth millions”, argued that it would be “mean-spirited” to encourage “old people living alone in big houses … to sell up and make room for young and aspiring families”. I would argue that holding on to such houses while families are homeless is, in aggregate, far meaner.Where are they supposed to go, George? Will you be there on the doorstep to remind Doris & Bert that the lovely home they’ve grown up in and now have to leave for a small one-bed flat in Hackney is much better placed in the hands of the Hussains, just arrived from Syria with their fourteen kids?
But not even Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will champion such obvious solutions, for fear of alienating people who bemoan the problem but don’t really want it solved.You mean, ‘voters’? Well, fancy that!